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Published: Thursday, December 20, 2018 @ 8:35 PM
Updated: Thursday, December 20, 2018 @ 10:30 PM
DAYTON — Fugitive former youth soccer coach Justin K. Smith, who was nabbed last week in Florida after 45 days on the lam, is now back in the Montgomery County Jail.
Smith, 41, was booked just after 8:30 p.m. Thursday into the jail. According to jail records, he was picked up by local authorities in Destin, Fla.
Fresh off a flight back to Dayton, News Center 7’s Sean Cudahy was there as the Germantown man got out of a sport-utility vehicle wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He was led in handcuffs inside the jail.
Smith was captured last Friday in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., after a woman he met through an online dating site researched Smith and learned he had been convicted of sex crimes involving a 14-year-old girl he coached. The woman reported Smith’s whereabouts to deputies there, who took him into custody with her cooperation, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Rob Streck said last week.
He had been held in the Okaloosa County Jail as a fugitive from justice, and he waived his right to an extradition hearing to determine whether he should be returned to Ohio.
Smith fled in the middle of his trial after he took the stand on Halloween. He did not return after a lunch break, and his ankle monitor was later found in Franklin.
He was absent when a judge convicted him of three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of sexual battery and two counts of sexual imposition involving a 14-year-old girl Smith coached in soccer. He had waived his right to a jury trial.
Smith must be present for sentencing, and in anticipation of his return, a motion was filed Wednesday for a psychological evaluation of Smith prior to sentencing, Montgomery County court records show.
While he was on the run, Smith was one step ahead of law enforcement.
The night he disappeared, surveillance video and financial transactions later traced him to a hotel, stores and restaurants in Kentucky, and later in two Tennessee cities. Deputies said Smith was getting around using prepaid credit cards and prepaid, or burner, cellphones.
Detectives believed that Smith drained his public employee retirement from his former job at the Montgomery County Developmental Disabilities Board to open a new account and was using that money. On Dec. 6, they obtained a court order to freeze that account, but Smith’s lawyers said it was unlawful because there was no proof Smith was using it. His lawyers said the account was to provide for his wife and three children. The account was unfrozen five days later, before a hearing happened.
When Smith was taken into custody at a townhome in Florida, he had only been in the area a couple of weeks, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
It’s not clear what additional charges Smith will face for removing his ankle monitor and fleeing the state.